Posted by Baceseras on October 05, 2007
In Reply to: Shirley verses Alan posted by Smokey Stover on October 05, 2007
: : I was swapping memories with a childhood friend on Friends Reunited and recalled the saying 'Shirley verses Alan'. It was the tradition to write this on walls to make everyone aware that the two named were "sweethearts" or, as we used to put it "going with" each other. I wonder where the verb verses comes from - could it be mediaeval ie a swain courting his lady love by writing verses in her honour?
: My first reaction was that "verses" is just a misspelling of "versus." But since "versus" means, in English usage, "against," it doesn't seem quite to fit the situation of sweethearts. "Going with each other" sounds rather unlike "going against each other." On the other hand, "to verse" is not a verb that I have heard.
In law style, the word 'versus' is abbreviated vs. or v. "Shirley vs. Alan" or "Shirley v. Alan" would denote a lawsuit, with the first named as plaintiff and the second as defendant.
In the style of writing seethearts' names on walls, however, the word should be 'loves': "Shirley loves Alan", sometimes written with a heart sign replacing the verb. A free-form heart written hastily on a wall could look like a small v.
A leg-pulling humorist, passing by, might point to the wall and say, "Oh, look - 'Shirley versus Alan'." (I might have done this myself, although I'm admitting nothing.) This innocent joke, unexplained by the party of the first part, and taken straight by the party of the second part, might in time have suffered the accretion of misunderstanding enough to prompt the original question. I merely mention it as a possibility.